As The End Of Summer Approaches, Flowers And Insects Dominant The Susquehanna Wetlands

As The End Of Summer Approaches, Flowers And Insects Dominant The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (11 of 50)
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It is hard to believe that it is the last week of August, and the end of Summer  is only a few weeks away. I love the warm weather and I am always saddened as the days shorten and the sun moves toward the southern horizon. It’s been two weeks since my last visit, so I headed to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County on Saturday. It was mostly cloudy and a mild 70 degrees when I arrived early in the morning.  The Susquehanna River was swollen from the recent heavy rains.

Walking into the wetlands the first thing I noticed was the absence of the birds songs and calls. Usually the wetlands echo with the calls of the red-winged blackbirds, catbirds, robins and songbirds.  There was little  bird song on Saturday, but the wetlands weren’t quiet.  The sounds of cicadas and crickets replaced the  singing of the birds.  They now made the sounds that echoed throughout the still green woodlands of  wetlands.  

There were still a few birds in the wetlands, I saw and heard some green herons, a red-tailed hawk, goldfinches and a couple of wood ducks. I was surprised the wood ducks are still here. They usually are one of the first water fowl to depart at the end of Summer.

There were still a  lot of wildflowers blooming along the trails, including the native pretty purple ironweed flowers, 

the white arrowhead flowers, 

this blue relative of the cardinal flowers, the pretty blue lobelia, 

and this common,  but not welcome, to allergy sufferers anyway,  wildflower meadow goldenrod. 

Besides the late Summer display of flowers many plants and trees are already producing their seeds, fruits, nuts and berries. These are northern spice bush berries. 

These are silky dogwood berries, 

and these gray dogwood berries. 

Pokeweed berries, loved by the birds, but poisonous to humans also were ripening, 

as were the berries of the Solomon seal.

In addition to the berries the black walnut, 

and hickory trees have already produced mature nuts. 

 I also saw a few mushrooms including this member of the russula species. 

Leaving the wetlands, I walked back down to the river and saw this pair of, I believe, spotted sandpipers. I  believe they are already migrating south since I didn’t see any all Summer. 

In the river land section of the park I saw no geese or other water birds on the  lake. There was a pair of kingfishers fluttering above the lake but they did not come close enough for a photo. 

There were also many   different   end of Summer flowers blooming along the trails along the lake. Here, in this drier environment were purple loosestrife, 

wild morning glory or false bindweed, 

jewel weed or touch-me-nots, and

pretty New England asters.

And these flowers attracted many insects, like this wasp attracted to this pretty yellow coneflower. 

The purple loosestrife attracted many species of wasps and bees. 

Many moths and butterflies were also attracted to the flowers including, I believe, this monarch butterfly feeding on an evening primrose flower. I often confuse a monarch with a viceroy but I am pretty sure this is a monarch.

This pretty one is a comma butterfly,

this a red spotted purple butterfly, and this

a species of skipper butterfly and  I only  know this because of a Facebook friend. 

In past years there were hundreds, if not thousands of dragonflies darting and hoovering along the lake and canals in the wetlands and river lands. This year there are very few. I may have seen a dozen on my five mile hike, mainly these, Halloween pennants I believe. 

And there were still swarms of the cicada killer wasps along the trails. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the insects I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands insects. August 21 2021.

As usual I walked to the far end of the lake and then began my hike back to the wetlands. 

On the way I saw a few more birds including this northern cardinal, 

this catbird, and, 

the first red-winged blackbird I have seen in weeks. I would see and here dozens of these noisy birds on my hikes earlier in the Spring and Summer. Most of them have already left the wetlands and are moving south for the Winter. They will return in massive flocks early next Spring. 

They sun broke through the clouds as walked back through the wetlands,

the only critter I saw was this turtle who decided to enjoy the late august sun

I finished my 5 mile hike around noon. Once again I didn’t see the exciting stuff, like bears, eagles, snakes or ospreys, but it was another quiet , peaceful walk  enjoying the subtle beauty of the plants, trees, flowers and insects in the wetlands.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my end of the Summer hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands August 21 2021.

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”  – William Shakespeare

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